Are Condoms an Uber Fail? (They Don’t Always Prevent Herpes Infection)

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condom failure

“After the use of just 10 condoms, the probability of at least one failure is 52%.” – Contraceptive Technology

During one particular study, it was noted that “24 sets of condoms were tested and all failed.” (1)

Most are unaware that genital herpes can be transmitted even when using condoms.

For instance, the CDC notes on its website, that while condom use can reduce the risk of herpes transmission, “outbreaks can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.” (2)

Another study showed that “Spillage from condoms occurs as much as 65% to 75% of the time.” (3) and “Higher per-use rates of breakage or slippage (of condoms) among non-main partners were also observed in our analysis involving heterosexual partners during vaginal sex.” (4)

“22 major studies of more than 40,000 condoms used during heterosexual intercourse in five different countries have found that 4.6% of all the condoms broke and 2.5% of them partially or completely slipped off, for a total failure rate of 7.1%.  That means that about 1 in 14 condom uses results in failure.”(1)

These are all major reasons that Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist promised to offer a $100,000 grant through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to anyone, from students and scientists to entrepreneurs, who can invent a next-generation condom. (5)

The bottom line?

Condom failure results in exposure to all the sexually-transmitted diseases that a partner may have.

Alternative methods of prevention before infection occurs are needed, while the need for safe and effective treatments continues for those already infected with the herpes virus.


(1)  Guttmacher Institute – Fact Sheet – Contraceptive Use

(2) – Genital Herpes – CDC Fact Sheet

(3) Bjorklund and Gordon. Univ of Manitoba. Nov. 1990.

(4) Taylor & Francis Online – L.H. D’Annaa*, A.D. Margolisb, L. Warnerbc, O.A. Korostelevaa, L. O’Donnelld, C.A. Rietmeijere, J.D. Klausnerf, W. Nomuraa, C.K.  “AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV” Published online: 23 Apr 2012

(5) Science World Report – Matilda, B. “Bill Gates Offers $1 M to Invent World’s Next-Generation Condom” Published March 25, 2013.

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